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[original article from www.castoways.org]
In 2005 Ms. Walters formed GodParents Youth Organization, a nonprofit public benefit organization, composed of a core group of California school bus drivers who share a common love for young people. Travel has become a vehicle for GYO to educate, encourage and enhance the lives of youth often left behind for various reasons.
On Sunday, December 26, 2006 GYO will embark on a trailblazing experience called the “Share Care Project”, a week long trek that will take 20 students from California to Louisiana and back. These school bus drivers give freely of their vacation time to provide such opportunities to the students.
Along the way, the group will visit traditional and private colleges, experience geographical and cultural heritage sites, and tour historical memorial locations such as the Alamo. They will visit Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans. They will journal their experiences at the end of each day. The mission of the “Share Care Project” is to expose urban youth to fresh experiences leaving them with tangible memories that will influence future life choices they will make.
The “Share Care Project” is one of GYO’s programs designed to provide young people with the opportunity to see the world around them while teaching them to give of themselves. They will be distributing needed items in gift backpacks to their peers still living in still living in temporary housing throughout the areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. They will also be encouraged to become pen pals to one or more of the students they visit. An important objective is to plant a desire for higher learning by having them visit college campuses in these states.
“Why is this cause so vital to me? It’s very personal” states Walters. Her passion for youth and travel drove her and a team of LAUSD school bus drivers to find more time in their already busy schedules to provide a service to those less fortunate. Walters states “Today, our youth are feeling trapped in what we call the “less mess”. They feel helpless and hopeless. Despair in many cases has robbed our teens of the idealism, energy and creativity.”
In talking with students on the school bus, the drivers easily recognized that many of them have never been outside their communities. When questioned about their behavior, the response was “We would do better if we knew better.” Such statements drove the bus drivers to volunteer their free time to chaperon trips beyond amusement parks.
Since touring Northern California with fifteen young people in April, 2006 and a 4,800 mile trek along the Mother Route 66 with 10 youth in August, 2006, the organization has developed and created a buzz among the teens that are willing to venture out, improve their academics, and explore the USA. These tours have sparked an interest in these students to strive toward an avenue for higher learning.
These 20 students who travel to New Orleans will return to their community with an enriched vision of the United States. The organization is registered as a non-profit organization to help California school children learn to give to others.-----------
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